As a prospector I was asked to comment on the new amendments proposed for our local Mining Act.
I am not smart enough to make any significant comment that might improve upon these amendments. However, I feel a slight tightening of a noose already around my neck when I try to read them.
I simply hope that the powers that be – and that includes the bureaucracy, the opposition parties, the government, and especially the Yukon First Nations – realize that mining, love it or hate it, is the only vehicle we collectively have that can raise the tax revenues required to pay for the things for which we have grown accustomed.
Someday federal transfer payments to this territory will be cut. I know it is heresy to even suggest the thought. But like the ubiquitous child that has been raiding your refrigerator for years, one day you wake up, and it is gone. The same will happen to our free money.
Who is going to pay the pension you have worked so long for? Who is going to heat the Canada Games Centre, or the local hockey arena? How about plowing roads or maintaining all those shiny new First Nation offices that are popping up all over the territory? Who is going to pay to maintain all that? There aren’t enough of us for our property taxes to shoulder that weight.
We need a large, consistent, long-term tax base. Tourism won’t do it. Nor will farming, forestry, or trapping. For now we have the Albertans and their dirty oilsands keeping us hypocritically happy. But that will change.
Mining, despite looking big and ugly and dirty (unless you are an engineer, or a First Nation getting royalty payments), is more like a delicate flower. It needs nurturing. It is like keeping a beehive. You have to keep them happy, so they produce enough honey to keep you happy.
The Yukon is in direct competition with Australia, Nevada, Alaska, B.C., everywhere on earth. Some of those places have other ways to make taxes. We don’t. We have to attract and keep those bees, or learn to live with a lot less.
Our collective decisions today will dictate your property taxes, your pensions (look at Detroit) and Yukoners’ quality of life 10 years from now. They better be the right ones.